Louis Siciliano’s musical world is far removed from the concerns of Top 40 or mainstream entertainment. It is part musical exercise, part intellectual endeavor, and adds up to one of the most invigorating aural experiences any musical fan will hear in recent times. The music can reach a wide audience, none of the songs are long, but it reeks of ambition. Ancient Cosmic Truth, as a title, may smack of heavy-handedness, but even a cursory listen to this collection illustrates an approach that is anything but heavy-handed. Instead, hearing the breathtaking collection will introduce listeners to a take on the jazz fusion form that breaks down its traditional distance between the music and average listeners.
The first example of that distance breaking down comes with the opener. “Bambara’s Symmetries” comes on blazing, never out of control, but hitting all its marks from the first. Siciliano’s synths are brilliantly alive and play off well against one another. The interplay between drummer Claudio Romano, percussionist Alex Acuna, and Siciliano’s synths, however, is crucial. Acuna, one time percussionist for jazz fusion stalwarts Weather Report, connects the lineup with a piece of history and lends added credibility to the proceedings.
Not that Siciliano and his cohorts need the added credibility. Tracks such as the EP’s second, “Translucent Dodecahedron”, lay down their credentials for anyone with ears. Melody is always present, but there’s ample technical skill on display as well. Spicing up the compositions with the plaintive call of Umberto Muselli’s tenor sax lines and Randy Brecker’s trumpet packs extra power behind the musical punch of songs such as “Translucent Dodecahedron”. They accomplish this here and elsewhere despite the relatively brief length of each song.
“The Secret of Mansa” is a shift in gears. The composition is far more relaxed and “lighter” than its counterparts, with Brecker and Muselli taking on a much more prominent role in the performance. Many listeners will hear a clearer thematic thrust behind this song than the other three EP tracks as Siciliano and his partners structure the performance with clearer connections between the music and the song title. The same commitment to brevity stays in place – there is no wasted motion. His resolute avoidance of anything smacking of self-indulgence is laudable, particularly given the style he’s working in and its history.
We go back, however, to the EP’s template signature style with the EP closer. “Ancient Cosmic Truth” burns with brighter fire than any of the aforementioned outings without ever careening out of control. Instead, we hear an even tighter focus on musical goals, and the individual turns are outstanding. The percussionists, in particular, stand out. Their intensely rhythmic and head-on attack is never anything less than musical. It’s a definitive performance, in many ways, and exemplifies the high standards driving Siciliano’s art. This is a composer and performer intent on following his Muse wherever she may lead, but Louis Siciliano never neglects the listener’s needs. Ancient Cosmic Truth is unlike anything you’ve heard in recent memory and the best part of it may be the idea that Siciliano hasn’t yet hit his peak.